Link to this page: https://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/1116/31831
The Socialist 13 January 2021 |
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PCS Broad Left Network conference
Get stuck in to build a fighting, democratic PCS union
The PCS Broad Left Network (BLN) conference takes place on Saturday 16 January.
The BLN is a rank-and-file socialist group. It was set up two years ago by PCS members looking to build the fighting, democratic union leadership no longer provided by Left Unity.
The bankruptcy of the current Left Unity leadership of the PCS has been ruthlessly exposed by the Covid-19 pandemic:
- At the outset of the pandemic it issued so-called guidance to members which concluded: "We are not advising you to do, or refrain from doing, anything."
- Not until October did it acknowledge that collective action could and should be the appropriate response to workplace safety concerns. This was after months of vilifying BLN supporters for calling for collective action.
- The 2020 pay campaign began with a whimper and ended with a petition. In between, the leadership put in a 10% claim, which it then withdrew as a national unity gesture, and asked instead for an inflation-linked increase. The employer thanked it for its "constructive approach" and contemptuously rejected even the watered-down claim. The union leadership then reinstated the original claim but with no strategy for advancing it.
- Workers turned to their unions during the pandemic, and many unions gained substantial numbers of new members. The National Education Union recruited 50,000 new members through its campaign for safe schools, and responded to the mass pressure to take decisive action about schools reopening in January. Not PCS though. In a blind panic, the union leadership launched a 'future of the union' exercise, with merger and/or major cutbacks as their twin solutions. BLN supporters, meanwhile, called for an in-depth analysis of the failure to recruit new members before jumping to conclusions about what needs to be done.
- The union's 2020 elections and conference were cancelled. BLN supporters opposed these decisions. Elections and a Zoom-based conference are scheduled for 2021. But in a move of breathtaking arrogance, the leadership is attempting to dictate to branches what can be discussed, and place limits on the number of motions they can submit. This unconstitutional attack on our democracy was, and is, opposed by BLN members.
The challenge for 2021 is to develop the BLN fighting, democratic programme and elect a PCS leadership that will actually give a determined lead to defeat the attacks our members face. Whether it has been on safety, jobs, conditions or pay, BLN supporters have been to the fore in putting forward demands on how our union can mobilise our members to stop these attacks.
If you want to get stuck in to actively build the fightback - come along to our conference on Saturday16 January and get involved in the Broad Left Network.
- Join BLN and register for the conference at pcsbln.wordpress.com